Indonesia freezes AirAsia Surabaya-Singapore route permit

Indonesian military personnel carry caskets containing the remains of passengers who were onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501, recovered off the coast of Borneo, at a military base in Surabaya, January 2, 2015. ― Reuters pic
Indonesian military personnel carry caskets containing the remains of passengers who were onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501, recovered off the coast of Borneo, at a military base in Surabaya, January 2, 2015. ― Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 ― Indonesia’s Transport Ministry has suspended temporarily the Surabaya-Singapore air route permit for Indonesia AirAsia, over suspicion the airline may have violated an agreement on the number of times it is allowed to ply that flight path.

The suspension is effective today and will depend on the outcome of the government’s investigation and evaluation report, Indonesian news portal Berita Satu Online reported this evening, citing JA Barata, head of communications in the republic’s Transport Ministry.

According to the news report, the Indonesian unit of the Malaysian budget carrier was only granted permission to ply the Surabaya-Singapore route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

However, PT Indonesia AirAsia is alleged to have deviated from the schedule and flown on Sundays, without first obtaining the permission of the local air traffic authorities.

The official was reported advising passengers who had bought flight tickets for that route from AirAsia to switch to another airline.

The decision freezing the popular route between Singapore and Indonesia’s second-largest city is the latest blow to the budget carrier that is still reeling from the loss of a passenger plane carrying 162 people last Sunday.

Flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea en route to Singapore from Surabaya in the early morning of December 28, 2014.

Pieces of the wreckage and 22 bodies of the 155 passengers and seven crew members have been retrieved to date; survivors have yet to be detected.

Inclement weather has hampered a multi-nation search and recovery operation to retrieve the main fuselage and black boxes suspected to be lying on the seabed.

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